The decision of the “Church of England” – the name given to the Anglican Church in Britain – to bless same-sex unions has produced a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion. An international meeting of key non-British Anglican leaders, held in Rwanda, called the move “pastorally misleading and blasphemous.”
Officials present at the meeting endorsed their rupture with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and called on him and the Church of England to repent of its decision. The meeting, held in Kigali from April 17-21, brought together 1,302 delegates from 52 countries, including 315 bishops, 456 clergy, and 531 laity. Its final declaration was called the “Kigali Commitment.”
“Despite 25 years of persistent warnings from most Anglican Primates, repeated deviations from the authority of the Word of God have torn the fabric of the Communion. These warnings were blatantly and willfully ignored and now, without repentance, this tear cannot be repaired,” the fourth Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) of the World Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (WFCA) said in a statement dated April 21.
Last February, the General Synod of the Church of England voted in favor of blessing same-sex couples. The GAFCON statement calls the decision “a further departure” from biblical authority that harms the Anglican Communion.
“The Holy Spirit and we are saddened that the leaders of the Church of England are determined to bless sin,” they said. “Since the Lord does not bless same-sex unions, it is pastorally deceptive and blasphemous to craft prayers that invoke blessing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” they explained.
“Public statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders of the Church of England in support of same-sex blessings are a betrayal of their ordination and consecration vows to banish error and to uphold and defend the truth taught in Scripture,” the statement explains. The Anglican primate's remarks also run counter to Resolution 1.10 of 1998 Lambeth Conference, declared that ‘homosexual practice incompatible with Scripture’ and advised against the ‘legitimizing or blessing of same-sex unions.’”
The statement further states that successive Archbishops of Canterbury have “failed to guard the faith by inviting bishops to Lambeth who have embraced or promoted practices contrary to Scripture.” The GAFCON conference said this “makes his leadership role in the Anglican Communion entirely indefensible.”
“We long for this repentance but until they repent, our communion with them remains broken,” the conference added, “we consider those who refuse to repent have abdicated their right to leadership within the Anglican Communion.”
GAFCON’s leading church primates were joined by primates of the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA). According to the Kigali Declaration, these Anglican leaders represented approximately 85% of Anglicans worldwide. The GSFA is chaired by Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, Primate of South Sudan.
“Both GSFA and GAFCON primates share the view that, due to the departures from orthodoxy articulated above, they can no longer recognize the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion, the ‘first among equals’ of the primates," the GAFCON statement read.
The intra-Anglican schism is therefore consummated for the time being, which is not a surprise. There is something “healthy” in this rupture which has been made against the recognition of homosexual unions and the possibility of blessing them. And it should be noted that it is the African continent that is the driving force behind the defense of this point of morality.